There are a few things in life that are extremely hard. One of them is giving gifts. It’s a challenge every season as much as it’s a joy. There’s always a certain pressure attached to it. But in the end, there’s a rewarding feeling you get when you got just the perfect present for your friends and loved ones.
These days, trips to different pop-ups, bazaars, and malls are more frequent. The hunt is on. There has to be a formula to this chaos, right? Aside from rounding up gifts and places to shop, we also made a guide on how to go about your gift-giving systematically, without much hiccup.
#1 Make a list
You can go the old-school way and do it on your bullet journal or just type up a quick list on your Notes app. Eitherway, writing down the people you want to give gifts to will make sure you don’t forget anyone. Plus, you’ll get to reflect a little on what you’ve gone through in the past year, prompting you to think over what they’ll want to receive.
Don’t: Wait for the perfect gift to come hit you. I used to be that type of shopper who thinks that you’ll just stumble on the gift you need to give a certain person. “Oh, this is so like *insert name here*” upon seeing a random item that’s in that person’s favorite color won’t work. You’ll tend to forget people because not all gifts come to you like that.
#2 Get personal
Over pomp and some amount of bravado, gifting something that’s related directly to your relationship is the best. It could be a reference to an inside joke, an item you tend to see them use all the time, or something that you know will help them during their daily life but just don’t know of yet. The gift won’t just be a sentimental thing, it could also be something you’ll bond over. Think: Gifts don’t have to be just material objects.
Don’t: Buy the same items in bulk. Unless you love to have stocking stuffers on hand, buying things in bulk can be a little awkward especially when you’re around the tree, when they’ve noticed you’ve unwrapped the same gifts. It’ll save time and some money, perhaps. But it’s a little impersonal for this season, right? There are few moments when giving the same gifts to everyone is appropriate, don’t get us wrong. But for those who mean truly and dearly to you, you have to dig deep.
#3 Wrap it up
Unless there’s no way going about it, don’t forget to wrap your gifts well. It doesn’t have to be all out but part of the excitement of gift-giving is the small ritual of unwrapping, the little mystery that comes when you don’t know what you’re getting. Don’t deprive people of that experience. It’s like taking the fun out of it.
Don’t: Forget the card. A simple one will do if you don’t have much to say, but it’s still important. It’s part of the sentiment. Cards with messages are a plus and are even gifts in themselves. Eitherway, a card isn’t optional.
#4 Give with purpose
Related to #2, you can give gifts that not only bring some happiness but also can be of true help. Books you personally recommend speak of concern; a cutlery set for the friend struggling in cooking class says you believe in them; a booking at a spa is the reinforcement of your daily reminder to them to catch a break. Sometimes, this holiday season is the best time to be upfront with your friends and ask them what they really need. You’d be surprised because what they ask for might not even be in the form of a physical object. Some of the people you love just need a coffee date with you.
Don’t: Give for giving’s sake. The sentiment by which you are offering these presents translate often. If there’s no heart to what you’re giving, it’s not to standard of the season. Hey, if you really want to skip out for this time, it’s cool. You can give a gift any time of the year and that’s better especially when you mean it.
#5 Go green
With all the items we stuffed on store shelves and the pile underneath our Christmas trees, I can’t help but worry about the environment. A lot of waste is produced this season so it’s smart to pick eco-friendly gifts. You can also hand out some items that promote a greener lifestyle like reusable metal straws. You can also be smart about it when it comes to wrapping your gifts: get creative with the paper and eco-bags you’ve accumulated throughout the years. Figure out how to use scrap papers for the cards and gift wrapper.
Don’t: Give something that doesn’t have a long life. If you know that, eventually, the trash bin is where your gift will end up, think twice. This is why you have to really put some effort in those gifts as we specified in #1 and #4, because you won’t be making hasty choices that usually create bad decisions and gifts that won’t even last the season.
Art by Lara Intong
Preen Gift Guide: Grab These Novelty Items From Asian Shops
Preen Gift Guide: The Practical Items You Never Knew You Needed
Where to Christmas-Shop to Become the Best Gift-Giver Ever
What’s It Like to Shop with Georgina Wilson?